Carson hoops teams ready for season
It’s not going to become any easier for the Carson High boys basketball team this season if it wants to qualify for the Northern 4A playoffs. Actually, the task is arguably the most difficult it’s ever been.
Meanwhile, the CHS girls basketball team wants to continue to build on the momentum it had from the second half of last season when it was able to reach the Northern 4A semifinals.
Carson returns only four players from last year’s team and only two players with any significant playing time – Zach Weismann and Rob Valerius.
Meanwhile in the Sierra League, defending NIAA 4A State champion Reno High returns a strong nucleus and Hug returns Armon Johnson, the co-Northern 4A Player of the Year last year with Luke Babbitt.
Douglas High also returns its entire lineup from last year, including 6-10 Keith Olson, who has signed with Northern Arizona. Those three teams could challenge for the Northern 4A title and the right to play for the NIAA 4A State title along with Galena, who returns two of Northern 4A’s top players in Babbitt and Eric Maupin. North Valleys, which returns Archie Kovich, is another team that figures to be reckoned with.
Douglas and Galena have already played in a scrimmage at a large preseason tournament near Susanville, Calif., and the game was a highly competitive, spirited contest. Carson coach Bruce Barnes said this is probably the best Douglas team he’s seen in a long time.
Carson was also at the tournament, but wasn’t at full strength, missing potentially four starters for much of the event. Weismann wasn’t able to play after having his wisdom tooth pulled, Joe Leatham was unavailable due to an academic commitment, Caleb Carter was out with an ankle injury and Will Holbert hurt his ankle in the event.
But all those players are expected to be ready as the Senators should be at full strength when they open the season on Dec. 7 against California Sac-Joaquin power Laguna Creek in the Carson Valley Classic.
“It’s awfully tough,” said Barnes about the Northern 4A picture. But Barnes isn’t conceding anything, although his Senators again will lack size as they have for several years.
Carson has several players which are the tallest on the team at 6-3. “Pretty much all guards,” Barnes said.
Barnes said his team will be able to create matchup problems for some opponents, but with the lack of size, his club will have the matchup problems most of the time. He said his team will have to score from the perimeter and in transition.
Other returners for Carson are sophomore Matt Rutledge and Leatham. At 6-3, Leatham will be Carson’s center.
Rutledge backed up Adam Houghton at point guard last year and is the favorite to take over this season. “He’s got some guys pushing him,” Barnes said.
Others contending for playing time at point guard are sophomores Kalvin Case and Steven Fowzer.
Weismann was Carson’s sixth man last year. His highlight came when he scored the winning basket to beat Douglas at CHS. “He’s probably our best athlete,” Barnes said.
Others contending for playing time are Zack Rispin, Paul Cagle, Jordan Miller and Markus Adams. David Eller, 6-3, will likely be the backup center.
“Hopefully we will be able to go 9 or 10 deep,” said Barnes about what it will take to play the style his team needs to play.
Carson returns a strong nucleus from last year’s team that went 16-14, including sophomore Brandi Vega, who made the all-Sierra League second team last year. Vega, who is really a combo guard with a great deal of quickness, is expected to take over for the departed Rosella Nunez at point guard.
The Senators lost two other starters in Nicole Scott, who went on to Eastern Washington, and Sinead McSweeney. But also returning for the Senators are Sarah Evans, Kaitlin Burroughs, a returning starter, Blaike King, Anna Macquarie, Abby Rankl and Megan Kilty.
Along with Vega, Kilty and Burroughs are expected to be the other starting guards while Christa Casci and Evans should be among the players who also receive a great deal of playing time at guard.
Rankl is Carson’s only returning player with significant playing time in the post. Danielle Peacon, a 6-0 freshman, is expected to take over at center for Scott. Carson coach Ric Garcia, in his second year, said Peacon is going through the typical freshman growing pains, but called her the most talented freshman post player he’s ever seen.
Others contending for playing time will be freshman Gina Bianchi, Morgan Nuckolls, Kailey Taylor and Cassie Vondrak.
Garcia said how his team progresses in the post will be a key to the season. “We’re going to have to progress rapidly,” he said. “That’s going to decide how our season goes.”
Carson will open the season on Nov. 30 at Reed, which could be the state’s best team. Reed, along with Reno, are among the favorites to be the Northern 4A’s representative at state.
“You might as well get right into it,” Garcia said. “Get into the buzzsaw right away.”
While Carson could be considered to be one year away, Garcia doesn’t see it that way. He said his goal is to improve on last year’s record and to be able to compete with anyone by the end of the year.
Garcia will have familiar faces on the bench helping him. Ron Tamori, a longtime coach in the community, returns as an assistant. Garcia’s two other assistants are former Carson greats – Jennifer Minifie and Alyson Thurman.
KUDOS TO ROP
The Nevada Appeal has only been able to sporadically cover Rite of Passage near Yerington over the years, but in my time at the school I’ve always admired its mission.
So when I saw the score on Saturday that ROP had beaten Lincoln County 40-27 for its first ever state title, winning the NIAA 2A Division, my first thought was it couldn’t have happened to a better school.
“They are proof if you believe in something and you are willing to work hard, good things will happen to you,” ROP coach Willie Taylor told NevadaPrep.com.
LangiLangi Haupeakui ran for 168 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries against the Lynx to complete ROP’s season turnaround which began with a 28-14 loss to Incline. ROP needed a regular-season finale 21-18 win over Yerington just to make the playoffs.
ROP then beat previously unbeaten Battle Mountain 33-28 and Needles 40-15 on its way to the finals.
Haupeakui’s 33-yard scoring run gave ROP a 34-27 lead after the Lynx had overcome a 27-7 deficit to tie the game 27-27. Stepen Latu put the game away with a 56-yard TD run.
Haupeakui’s 82-yard touchdown run tied the game 7-7 against the Lynx. Joseph Luna returned a fumble 11 yards and Latu scored on a 3-yard run as the Rams went on to take a 27-7 lead.